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Where have you gone,
Joe Beelzebub?

Page 2 columnist

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have dropped the "Devil," and will henceforth be known as the "The Rays."

Duke Blue Devil Mascot
The Duke Blue Devil has certainly been affiliated with his share of successful teams.
The word broke last week, and I'm still shaking my head in the kind of disappointed nod associated with smack abusers and losing coaches.

The Rays? Infinitely less majestic, mucho de-fanged, and don't tell me you picked the name in the first place so you could pay long-overdue homage to the glory of the manta (a.k.a., salt water's answer to Jell-O).

On some level, I'm sure the Devil is relieved. I mean, this is a guy we have to thank for everything from O.J. to the continued success of 'N Sync. Do you think it was his idea to get linked with a pathetic expansion franchise best known for giving Wade Boggs a final whining place? Naaaa. Trust me, Beelzebub was too busy recruiting.

And I've got a little word of warning: Turning your back on the Devil is never a smart move, especially in the world of professional sports. Just log on right here on any given morning, and you'll see that Big Red's the majority owner of every franchise in every league.

I could care less if Ray management bowed to moral pressure or decided the shorter name would be more user-friendly. Satan was good enough to get you started, but now he's gotta go?

The world of sports has always doffed it's cap to the satanic, then turned it into goofy charicatures. From the headband-wearing Duke Blue Devil to the cherubic lil' devil of Arizona State, or any year we see the New Jersey Devils hoist Lord Stanley's cup, the man in red has long honored our sports halls and auds, just trying to hit the over-under and get his mind off work. If that's so wrong, then we should all be expurgated -- but pronto.

Allow me a moment to contact my best and worst instincts, in the hope that we might run this issue through a more objective process -- in this case, how the Devil stacks up in the courtroom known far and wide as ...

Good Nick vs. Bad Nick: Should Devil stay or go?
Good Nick: The Devil made Thurman Thomas lose his helmet just before the kickoff of Super Bowl XXVI.

Bad Nick: Proper pronunciation be damned, my favorite sharp-shooting wing remains Miro Satan.

Arizona State Sun Devils mascot
"Sparky" whips the crowd into an evil frenzy at Arizona State.

Good Nick: The Devil signs people to usurious contracts.

Bad Nick: So does Jerry Krause.

Good Nick: If we bow to our basest instincts, all is lost.

Bad Nick: I know for a fact that God fixed the Kentucky Derby on at least three occasions.

Good Nick: The Raiders?

Bad Nick: The Inquisition?

Good Nick: God works in mysterious ways.

Bad Nick: Ever been to a Promise Keepers rally? Ever heard Reggie White speak off-the-cuff? Yikes ... Hallelujah!

Good Nick: A soul is a terrible thing to waste.

Bad Nick: Am I the only one who thinks it's just wrong when players on the losing team join hands in prayer with their oppressors?

Any thinking man knows the Devil deserves at least as many second chances as Steve Howe. And it's important to remember that even the Prince of Darkness couldn't lift the Rays over .500. Maybe Tampa would've been better off purging their scouting departments, but that's just one man's opinion.

Humorist Nick Bakay, currently a writer for the CBS sitcom "King of Queens," is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and Page 2. He has a Web site at

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